18 Jan 2017

Cruden couldn't resist French affair

11:56 am on 18 January 2017

All Blacks and Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden will leave New Zealand rugby for France at the end of the Super Rugby season.

Aaron Cruden goes over for a try against England.

Aaron Cruden goes over for a try against England. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 28-year-old, who has 47 caps for New Zealand, this morning confirmed he's signed a three-year deal.

Cruden said, "It's with great sadness that this will be my last year playing rugby here in New Zealand, representing Manawatu, the Chiefs and also the All Blacks.

"Personally I would like to thank all of the rugby fans across New Zealand for all of the loyal and continued support that you have given me throughout my career. Thanks also to my friends and family. They have stuck by me and given me all that support that was needed for a young kid from Palmy to live out a childhood dream.

"I look forward to the next six months in New Zealand. Firstly Super Rugby with the Chiefs and hopefully making a good run at that title. If the future holds an All Blacks jersey in the Lions series I will be working hard to make sure that happens," Cruden said.

Montpellier will release an official statement later today.

French newspaper Midi Olympique have reported the deals is worth $1.2 million dollars per season for the Manawatu pivot.

Cruden comes off contract with New Zealand Rugby in June following the British and Irish Lions tour to the country and will join Montpellier following the conclusion of the Chiefs Super Rugby season.

The French Top 14 season starts at the end of August.

If Cruden does head to Montpellier he will link with the club's new coach, New Zealander Vern Cotter, the current Scotland head coach.

Cotter takes over at the French club after finishing his duties with Scotland in June.

Cotter is a big Cruden fan and his desire to acquire the first-five was reportedly a significant factor in the signing.

Montpellier need to replace their South African playmaker Demetri Catrakilis​ who is joining London club Harlequins in the English Premiership next season and they want a world class pivot.

Cruden's departure comes as no surprise, with the playmaker being overtaken in the All Blacks' first-five ranks by Beauden Barrett following the departure of Dan Carter.